Skincare Favorites – June 2018


Today’s post is all about skincare and what I’ve been using as of late. Disclaimer: any observation I make below has been solely from my own experience, and I am neither paid to write nor am I sponsored by any company in this post (although I sure wouldn’t mind getting products to try! hah)

Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence, $39

The company recently updated both the essence formula and the packaging and bottle label. On the left is the old bottle and formula; on the right is what you’ll now find in stores or online.

Supposed benefits of propolis as an ingredient in daily skin care include: anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties1, sebum and acne control2; and it may also help in healing wounds and with skin cell turnover.3 That’s a lot for one product to deliver, but in my experience so far, using some of this essence in conjunction with more adherence to nightly cleansing and toning has really seemed to brighten my complexion and decrease a lot of recurring chin breakouts. It has also helped in a pinch to calm sunburns, though I still think aloe gel does better because it cools the skin in addition to decreasing redness.

Differences between the old vs. new formula–according to Skinfood, the new formula now contains 63% black bee propolis extract, 10% royal jelly extract, and 10% black honey extract. Quite frankly I can’t tell the difference on me yet, but I will say that the old formula was more runny than the new one, which is a little more viscous.

How to use: I put a few drops around my face and gently rub it into my skin in small circles until it is absorbed. Usually after washing my face before bedtime, or before I put on my makeup in the morning as a lightweight moisturizer.

Skinfood Black Sugar Strawberry Mask Wash Off, $12

Masking is still a new and confusing area of skincare for me–the most I’ve really done is sheet masks, which are relatively inexpensive and quick to use. When I had shopped at my local Skinfood stores, I got a sample of the Black Sugar Strawberry face mask. It didn’t immediately impress me, but after swatching a few other wash off-style masks at Ulta (also primarily K-beauty brands) I came to appreciate this particular one.

The Black Sugar line is exfoliating and cleansing, and the strawberry smell of this mask IS fairly strong. As you apply the mask and it melts into the skin, the smell may make you hungry! You’ve been warned. I bought a silicone brush/spatula to avoid contaminating the jar as I apply it to my face.

How to use: apply with fingers or a brush on clean, damp skin, avoiding the eye and lip area. Rub gently into skin while washing off to exfoliate and cleanse. At the most I do this once every other week, as it is fairly messy.


That’s my mini product update, but if you have any recommendations for masks to try (I’d love to try a peel off one) or your favorite essence or serum, please leave me a note below 🙂

1. Propolis, 4000 years of Beauty via HeyHoney.com2. The Little-Known Ingredient Korean Women Use to Fight Acne via byrdie.com3. Well & Good


2017’s Best Hits

Hi! I thought I’d write some of my thoughts down; it’s been far too long since I’ve engaged in my usual blathering on this blog. 2017 was a hell of a year and I couldn’t have predicted all the things that happened in it. Personally, I experienced a lot of joys, but also appreciated the growing pains of adulthood and responsibility in general. I guess that’s intentionally vague, since I have no desire to turn this into a confessional. Suffice it to say, shopping (read: spending on clothes) hasn’t been a top priority when there’s other real-life s*** going down.

With that being said of COURSE I did end up buying a thing or two (or three) because life is inevitable and I’m still a consumer at the core. Ready for some over-analysis and proselytizing AF?!

2017: why you stop writing, Kristina? and …you bought more gray sweaters?


1. Sweaters

This came from the fact that I went to Seattle in August wearing the exact same travel outfit as two years prior, except the navy sweater was definitely pilled and faded compared to pictures before. I love those light weight Gap v-neck sweaters to bits, you’ll see me wearing those for about 9 months out of the year except for during SoCal Death Summers when my personal style suffers because you can’t take your own skin off to cool down.

Total sweater acquisitions:
(2) Old Navy – one black, one gray
(1) Everlane – one gray cropped
(3) Target – gray, forest green, pink heather
(1) Banana Republic – thrifted/hand-me-down from my aunt

7 sweaters seems like a lot when you live in a desert, y’all. But does the fact that I wear them to work excuse this rate of consumption?

2. New bottoms

I had a decent first half of the year running and working out until I popped my back on squats and I lost the desire to run. My body’s shape is changing yet again. I also learned that as much as I thought I could emulate trendy influencerzzz on Instagram, I’m better served with mid-rise pants and I need detox teas to fit in high-rise anything.

Total new bottoms:
(4) Gap jeans – 2 real straights, 1 boot cut, 1 thrifted/hand-me-down boot cut that needs hemming (I still don’t know if I’m keeping the boot cuts.)
(1) Target black work pants
(1) Levi’s cut off shorts

3. Surprise buys

I try not to let this become a habit, but throughout the year I did fall prey to a few impulse buys, mostly fueled by travel. The Coach wristlet was a surprise in that I like using it solo as a clutch as well as a mega wallet inside my regular bag.

4. Beauty

2017 was the year of beauty, or at least participating in the giant machine that is women’s skincare and makeup. For someone barely getting their feet wet in the massive abyss of serums and essences and potions oh my, this ended up being a new pie slice in my expense chart. Granted, the Tartelette palette was a very good Christmas gift, but I still managed to acquire:

(1) Byredo EDP (I like Blanche, but I bought a different scent) 100 mL
(2) Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Essence : I enjoyed the Propolis face mask so I got the essence in a bottle. I put this under my makeup in the daytime and before I go to sleep; takes care of dryness, light weight, feels like doing a sheet mask every day.
(1) Tartelette Toasted eye palette (Christmas present!)

I’ll probably need more of the essence in a few months, but I also have sheet masks and other samples to consume to fill in the gaps.



How did I do? Did I buy too many sweaters? (yes, even if they were on sale.) What areas did you find yourself spending the most on in 2017? Leave me a note below–I do miss writing here!

Everyday Face – June 2017 edition

Everyday Face – June 2017 edition

I had a post idea bubble up this morning as I was doing my makeup so I thought, let’s run with this inspiration and fire up the good ol’ blog! So here I am with a mid-year update; let’s get down to business, ne? Prepare thineself for the copious selfies–thou hast been warned.

The Glow-Up
I started writing/posting in 2013, and I wore nothing / pressed powder only:

December 2013. I miss this crazy long hair. I was living out my Zooey Deschanel/MPDG dreams with the bangs and specs.

In 2014 I lost twenty pounds, grew more hair (that remained tangled, lol), and made a little routine called the “Five Minute Face” that began with my brows. It felt pretty good, and I enjoyed doing my eyebrows so I kept it up.

DSC_0497 rsz
No mascara, just brows and bb cream and powder.

2015 events brought the introduction of eyeliner and lipcolor, to varying success:

2016– muscle memory and control is a little better. Started looking for a nude lip color and bought a few new brushes to add to the makeup bag.

Brow game solid by 2016.

2017’s Everyday Face no longer takes a mere five minutes, because I’ve since expanded my skill set. Here’s what I use on a regular basis (some steps optional):


From left to right:

    1. Lorac Pro to Go Eye/Cheek Palette
    2. NARS Radiance Enhancing Light Optimizing Primer
    3. Rimmel Matte BB Cream 9-in-1 Skin Perfecting Super Makeup in Medium
    4. Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara in 001 Black
    5. Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Pencil in 005 Nude
    6. L’Oreal Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner in Black
    7. Rimmel Brow this Way Brow Gel in Clear
    8. L’Oreal True Match Pressed Powder in N3 – Natural Buff
    9. Nyx Blush in PB01 Mocha
    10. Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Setting Spray

In general:

    • Moisturizer with SPF (not photographed), NARS primer on eyes, BB cream, pressed powder.
    • Brow routine which is filling in sparse areas with a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow close to my hair color; Rimmel brow gel to set.
    • Eyes. I create my own version of a “cut crease” or what I think looks like a cut crease, but is really just a smudge of something, with the Lorac palette. Or if I’m in a rush and only can do one color, I use single MAC pots in a non-descript brown just to have some color on the eyelids. Optional: I’ll tightline the lower waterline with nude pencil for work, smudge the gold/bronze color if I’m in the mood. Same with mascara or eyeliner. If I’m wearing all of the above, I consider that my “fleekest” for the day. Not really. It still looks pretty restrained.
    • Blush because why not. Concealer if I really need it, but I tend to forget/eliminate this step.
    • Setting spray when done.

I like what I’ve been doing so far:

Not photographed, on lips: NARS Matte Lip Pencil in Bansar

Hair’s all poofy.

This definitely takes a little longer than five minutes–I’d say about twenty, because I’m a lot more picky about my eyebrows and the eyeshadows when I do this. I’ve had days where I overfilled the brows and looked pretty silly or was sloppy on blending the shadow. But overall I really like where I am right now with the routine and while I am not quite yet a glazed donut perhaps 2018 might be my year! Maybe contouring will be passe by the time I get to it?



A trim became a lop. I haven’t had a cut this short in the past four years I’ve been trying to grow this hair. A vague stirring turned into indecision and then finally this at the salon yesterday. I’m ecstatic about the shortened drying time and the swingy-ness of less mass. In time I will return to being a dark-haired mermaid, but for now, this.

*full disclosure: this was a happy medium between completely lopping it off into a chin-length bob but it is still short enough to where it differed from my waist-grazing length. The ends were super dead and broken on my previous hair, and at that length it was whipping around my shoulders and back while running and getting stuck on my arms.

I also wish I were strong enough to say I won’t panic and regret this in a few weeks, but in the spirit of growth and maturity: it is hair, it will grow again, and I am fortunate to have a dense mane on my head.

Do you have any style tips or inspiration for looks for this length? I hardly do anything to my mop, maybe it’s time to try something new.

Perfume notes – March 2015

Perfume notes – March 2015

I’m not much of a beauty junkie, but I like to wear perfume. Yesterday I went to the mall to try on some things and dropped by the local Sephora to look at their fragrance section. These are just a few of the things that I tried on:

Disclaimer–I’m no connoisseur; I just know what works on my skin. My observations will be quite simple and unrefined:

Commodity Goods‘ Black and White Collection:

Wear them solo or layered. Under the bottles there are “mix” suggestions from the brand; it was quite interesting. For this visit, I only tried them solo to get a first impression.

Three of the five scents in the Black collection. Not photographed: Wool and Moss.

I was drawn to Whiskey and Book. Book smells great from the bottle but I don’t think my body takes to woodsy notes that well. I do know some friends for whom it might be more appropriate. Thumbs up on the packaging and name choices; it’s quite attractive to think “my perfume is Whiskey and Books.”

Unfortunately I think my style is more “Donuts and New Computer Smell.” I digress.

White collection. Not photographed: Paper, and Rain

Gold wears like Atelier Cologne‘s Vanille Insensee on me. No wonder I thought it was familiar. Mimosa is also a pleasant scent; it’s got blood orange and grapefruit as top notes and ylang-ylang in the base.

What I tried on at Sephora this month.

Of yesterday’s visit, I liked these three the most (and a fourth one not photographed, which is Atelier Cologne’s Pomelo Paradis.)

On Atelier Cologne: of the three citrus-themed scents I’ve tried from them so far, I’ll say Mandarine Glaciale > Pomelo Paradis > Orange Sanguine. Personal preference. They seem to last longer than Diptyque does on me. I’ll call it an insistent fragrance: you will smell yourself for a while. So likely others will too (is that what sillage is?) Love that they smell like freshly cut fruit, but it may be a bit overwhelming for some people.

Juliette Has a Gun is a brand by Romano Ricci, whose ancestry includes Nina Ricci and his grandfather Robert Ricci, creator of L’Air du Temps. I tried Not a Perfume and Anyway. These are pretty understated perfumes, Anyway goes on clean and finishes like a hint of soap or powder after 45 minutes. In contrast to Atelier Cologne, those two scents from Juliette Has a Gun are subtle and quiet. There are other “heavier” scents but I’m looking for a daytime spring/summer vibe, so I didn’t check those out.

Finally, Commodity Goods’ Gold: I like this better than Vanille Insensee; I’ll keep it in mind, but it’s not what I’m currently looking for. I may go back to try Mimosa or Tea.

That’s where I am fragrance-wise this season: looking for a new spring/summer, airy day scent. Do you wear fragrances? Do you change your scents with the season/for the occasion? Or do you prefer to wear one brand or one type of fragrance only?

La femme en rouge

Let me preface this by saying this is not-standard Kristina daily wear. I’m trying to grow into my feminine side and I think I’m getting there slowly. This weekend I attended a friend’s wedding, hence the pomp and fuss over on Instagram. Despite all my preparation, I can’t help but feel a little nervous when I step out in something precious like this:


Dress: old Donna Morgan linen pleated dress, Macy’s. (similar from Nordstrom)
Clutch: borrowed from my grandmother (similar)
Shoes: Sofft Gredda in pewter metallic (no longer available)

I have a penchant for muted metallic accessories. I feel like gold/silver looks good on my skin–nude pumps would also be good, but I’ve yet to find a comfortable and tone-correct pair. These heels have been with me for the last 4 years and will continue to do so–I only wear them for special occasions and I’m thankfully not at the point yet where I’d start a heel collection. I would be more of a sneakerhead first. I love brands like Sofft, Ecco, Born because they put comfort first while giving a nod to style. Not too bad for a “grandma” brand, right?



Eyes: Urban Decay Naked palette–Naked on the lids, Buck on the crease; L’Oreal Telescopic Waterproof Eyeliner, Wet N’ Wild eyebrow pencil in dark brown
Lips: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in curviest caramel
Face: Rimmel Matte BB cream in medium, L’Oreal True Match powder in N3

This is basically my “Five Minute Face” upgraded with eyeliner and eyeshadow. And derp-proof lip color in the form of a giant crayon. Why I don’t do this more often, I don’t know, because it really doesn’t take that much longer to schlep on, and I feel very Hepburn-esque (Audrey) with the gamine eyeliner. I think it’s because my eyes get irritated pretty quickly–I avoid mascara because it feels heavy and tends to itch.

Despite my worrying, I actually did OK and was comfortable in my get-up. At some point I did switch out to flats while driving and helping to haul stuff in for the reception, but otherwise, I was fine. Didn’t even drop sauce on me while eating all the yum Chinese banquet foods! Win. Eventually I hope this process gets easier and more natural–I want to be better, not just sartorially, but in all other aspects of my life. One dress at a time, I suppose.

How do you prepare for a formal occasion? Which aspect of your look do you concentrate on the most–dress, shoes, beauty routine? I’m still figuring out a fool-proof scheme so my closet (and supplies) are ready to go at any time.

Diptyque Friends and Family 8/9/14

This past weekend my cousin and I attended the Diptyque Friends and Family Event in South Coast Plaza on August 9, 2014. I’m admittedly late to the game as Diptyque perfumes have been around for ages, but I’m glad I found scents that I like from this company. When I received the email that the Costa Mesa store was hosting an event I was excited to attend and watch the proceedings.

Guests were invited to sample scents and ask questions about the products. We also heard about the upcoming new releases and dates for pre-orders.
Milling about. 🙂
Food spread! For some reason, cheese and melon slices are really tasty one after the other (is that odd?)

Delicious refreshments. I’m not very well-versed in wine at all, but I liked what I sipped. As we stood about and chatted I took the opportunity to look about the store more closely:

Colored candles and the hourglass diffusers on display.

I am not entirely sure what this blossom is but they were in vases all over the store. It didn’t seem to have a scent, but then again the entire store is oozing fragrance so it might have been overpowered by the items around it.

Not sure what these plants are called, but they felt like stiff cardboard blossoms. They are real though–these were in a vase with water.

We arrived near the start of the event, but apparently there was a good gathering of people there, according to the staff I spoke with. Here I am with Raven, whose customer service and product knowledge I admire. When I came in last year to sample the scents she was patient at explaining their product range to me and with her help I was able to identify a few fragrances to try. I’m really grateful that she is very approachable and knowledgeable, as I am a neophyte in the fragrance realm. It really helps when you’re able to take samples home and see what wears well and what doesn’t work. I definitely would not have bought anything without significant testing–I think I waited a month and a half after my first visit to make a decision on what I really liked.

Thank you Raven for your knowledge and hard work!

I’ve come up with a layering combination that I feel fits the person that I am now. To me, fragrance is as personal as it gets–ideally only the people in my direct space experience it, so I hope that whatever I put on not only goes with my body chemistry but also fits with my personality and image. I find that I seem to prefer fruit-based, citrusy scents with complementary woodsy/spicy notes for personal fragrance, and  vanillas mixed with berry scent for soaps/candles. I also like yuzu, grapefruit, and ylang-ylang components, but not all fragrances with these ingredients work well on me.

I cannot also ignore how scents can evoke memories/associations. My old perfumes remind me of a certain time in my life. Davidoff Cool Water Woman is middle school and high school–a very unisex, almost borderline masculine smell on me. I probably spied it in a Seventeen magazine and it was the least cloying/sticky-smelling scent, so tomboy teen me gravitated to that. The college years were spent wearing Clean Fresh Laundry–a light soapy smell that some people dislike, because it reminds them of detergent, but reminded me of the early morning and was calming to breathe in. Now I notice I’m gravitating to spice/fruit/vanilla: the fruit reminds me of the clean, fresh youthful scents I preferred, but the other two are new arenas to explore.

I almost got carried away philosophizing re: fragrances and self-perception when I’d rather hear how others determine their signature scent. I’ll probably continue to wear Clean Fresh Laundry until my stash runs out, but then I’d like to have a different everyday fragrance and then maybe something more experimental/expressive. Do you have a default, daily fragrance or several rotating choices? What are your favorite scent profiles or ingredients?